Monday, December 18, 2023

On the Therapist's Couch

Saturday morning, Ben and I got to return to the bottomless pit of doom

Actual image of the landing side of the down bank

We loaded up quite early to go to the POP schooling day at the horse park. Quite early for three reasons: repeat light from last weekend, less chaos in open schooling day, and weather. 

Given the above weather, we didn't get to replicate the lighting conditions, but no matter, it was plenty scary for Ben. We headed straight over there to make sure we had the time to sort it out correctly. 

The green is the slope up/down from the mound, the grey is the novice, blue is prelim, and black is the training line. First we did green to green and then the novice table after. I could feel him tense even just being up there though I gave him a clear route across. Then we did green to grey at a soft trot. He slammed on the brakes and tried going sideways and backwards. JT led him to the edge of it and then recruited her working student on a sales horse who is a bank mistress to come over and lead us down. He thought harder about going while following her, but still said no. She circled around 3-4 times until he finally decided she wasn't dying and so he could do it too. Then we trotted around and around and around until his hesitation was gone and he was starting to relax. Then we took a break so he could process and everyone else went and did a few things. 

When I picked the reins back up we did green to grey again to confirm it still wasn't shocking, then we did green to down the training one that we had gone up before. And repeat. Soft reins going down, but starting to move with a bit more purpose. I think we took another break and then headed from green to the ferocious training down. He stopped and I could feel his heart pounding still. Enter working student again and this time it only took two loops around before he followed her down. Then we put it all together, up the training bank and then down the training bank. Then we added in the brushy roll top after. The first time I was far too casual about the whole thing and we did the four strides in five and then had a flop of a jump over the roll top. The next time I still was too casual to the up, but got the four down. So we did it one more time, treating the up bank like a 3'6" vertical as JT said. It felt much better that way. 

I definitely had a hard time transitioning from so so soft and relaxed to creating the oomph that the up bank and roll top required and getting the striding done. But with JT's help, we got it sorted. 

We moved on to other things on the property, but added the bank set in one more time with no issue. He very unimpressively jumped a table down into the pit elsewhere on the property, so we had to repeat that. Overall he was definitely back to his former stare, chip, and squat. I found this quite frustrating because he had felt SO GOOD before the bank on the course last weekend. I knew the bank was going to be a thing, but I didn't realize it was going to translate to a knock to his confidence over everything else. 

We ended with the T/P/I ditches in a different part of the property. We tritty-trotted down to one and Ben acted like he had never in his life seen a ditch before. UGH!!! He went after a little bit of debating, and then we circled back and forth and back and forth over those until he was casual again.  

I was messaging JT after asking if I should have done anything differently. She said no, he was lacking confidence and we did a lot to restore it. She continued on to say "He's the sort of person who'd be on his therapists couch three days a week" which is the most true thing I've ever heard

He even trailered like an idjit and sat so hard on the ramp while we were traveling that he bent the latch. WTF dude. He had a friend so was back in the straight load configuration, but he usually likes having a friend enough he doesn't freak out. But I could feel the trailer rocking on the drive down. He loosened up the screws for the latch into the frame, so it is not an at home job. I can't wait to find out how much that is going to cost to repair. The butt bar was up so it is just his height letting him slam enough of his butt over the bar to put this much pressure on the ramp itself. Horses, man. 

It seems it will work out well that my schedule doesn't line up with any January events. We can keep rebuilding confidence with frequent trips to school that month. 


  1. omg i kinda love(hate) the analogy of Ben laying on the couch, spilling his guts, all "woe is me" to his ever patient therapist lol..... such a hard life he leads!

    for real, tho, charlie definitely has strong associations with specific landmarks. like this natural ditch out in the woods at our farm that he gleefully jumped over for years and years while on trail rides --- until the one time, after they'd gotten a kubota stuck in the ditch and tore it into deep bottomless mud, charlie got kinda stuck and sunk down into it, and panicked like an actual brontosaurus in a tar pit... and he's never wanted to go near that particular ditch ever again. so maybe Ben is just wary of that particular bank?? but maybe practicing banks at another location would help him remember that he knows the answer generally, even if that specific bank is squicky?

    1. I'm really curious if this will apply to other banks too. They have a sunken road I wanted to make it to to test it out, but we were soaked by the time we finished already and on the wrong end of the property.